Old Stockton’s Three Parks Kept Police Force on Jump

Camden Courier-Post – April 3, 1931

Sergeant Horner Recalls Days When Horse-Drawn Patrol Toted Woozy Celebrants From Moist Recreation Centers to City Hall

East Camden used to have three parks “in the old days” — and to hear a veteran like Police Sergeant William C. Horner tell it — they certainly kept the police force “on its toes.”

Sergeant Horner, who has seen more than a quarter century of service on the police force in East Camden and is now head of the city missing persons bureau, often tells of those days.

“There was John Hoosey Park at the foot of Twenty-seventh street, Stockton Park at Twentieth and Federal streets, where Buck’s farm is now, and Pavonia Park at River Road and State street,” Sergeant Horner said.

“A lot of folk from Philadelphia and other towns used to come out to the parks during the summer. There were picnic benches and dance pavilions and often some of them would imbibe too freely. It certainly used to keep us busy.

“Down in North and South Camden they used to use pushcarts to take drunks into headquarters but by the time the old town of Stockton was annexed to Camden as East Camden in 1900, the city had a horse-drawn patrol wagon that used to come slanging and clattering up Federal street from Fifth and Arch streets to be loaded with indiscreet park celebrants and sent back to headquarters.”

The old Stockton police force, according to Sergeant Horner, included 12 men with a captain and a sergeant. The captain when the annexation occurred was Robert Abbott, a brother of William S. Abbott, a member of the board of education. The former captain is now on the pension list.

Sergeant Horner can remember the days when farmland stretched from Twenty-seventh street on Federal as far as Merchantville and along Westfield avenue from Twenty-eighth street as far as Parry.

“Anybody who moved away in those days and came back now would never recognize East Camden in these days with its paved streets, big shopping districts and acres of houses. The place sure has changed,” Sergeant Horner says.

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